In this article, a leading British therapist talks about the wisdom of forgiveness and gives tips on how it might best be addressed and accomplished.
Forgiveness really is the eraser of guilt and anger. It is the key that unlocks the shackles of the past and permits us to move forward with our lives in a freer, far lighter way. Once we understand this we can start the process of healing that we deserve.
Bear these strategies in mind as you reflect and move along on your journey of forgiveness:
- Your main goal is to release the hurt and the anger that is feeding the pain. Just as you can heal from a painful thorn in your foot by pulling it out, so you can recover from any painful experience by moving forward. Once it doesn’t have a place deep in your heart and mind, it can no longer trouble, and the harm can, at last, come to a stop. Choosing to forgive means you allow those bad feelings to leave your life once and for all.
- It’s essential to replace negative feelings with neutral ones. When the facts remain unchanged, but those facts no longer have the ability to damage, then you are free of the past. You can change from being a victim to the victor. You are human, and so you can be hurt. Human beings really are resilient, and because you are human you can heal – from a love betrayal or awful, unfair experiences in your life. If you’re still reacting, then you’re still stuck in some kind of emotional mud. With forgiveness, you can be free of those toxic reactions.
- Humor is a wonderful agent of healing. If you are able to smile about the love that once hurt you, or joke about the years you fought with a sibling, family member, or lover then you trade pain for a different emotion. That heavy load is shifted, substituted by a much lighter newfound feeling that can even put a spring in your step. The healing power of forgiveness comes from our ability to let go of our anger and resentment. These emotions don’t really hurt those who have hurt us, but they certainly do hurt us. When we forgive we’re actually protecting ourselves; we unburden our mind, our emotions, and a great deal of our time. Putting focus on more empowering and positive areas frees and moves away from the event or person who has hurt us.
Forgiveness keeps us from harm’s way. As far as we continue to dwell on and concentrate on hurt in the past, continually reacting to the pain someone has caused, we remain emotionally stuck with that person and with what they have done. Forgiveness breaks the chains that lock. With it we take a gigantic step forward with our lives, disengaging the negativity and shielding yourself from harmful emotional involvement.
- Constantly going over a hurtful experience over and again keeps it fresh in the mind, creating mental and emotional upset. Should the topic arise in conversation, it’s much wiser to respond with: ‘I’ve decided not to focus on that experience. I’m allowing it to fade from my life, and I’m moving on to better things.’
- One of the most important aspects of the emotional recovery process is our own self-talk. What we say to ourselfs is the strongest driving force. Choosing words that feel authentic, we may say: ‘I choose to feel good today. Regardless what others say or do, my happiness comes from within. I alone determine how I feel.’
Statements such as: ‘I am now nurturing the child within, and I am doing a really good job. I alone have direct control over my psychological wellbeing. I look at the positive things in life. I get up every day and focus on what’s beautiful and what’s right.’
Once we, at last, come to see that our anger hurts only ourselves, then we are able to arrive at that state where forgiveness becomes reality. With forgiveness, we draw that line under the past and allow ourselves to move on with our life.